Autumnal Advice: Feeling Fall-ish?

I love Autumn. It is my favorite season and usually quite the coziest of them all. There are a few things that I love to do most ESPECIALLY in the Fall!  As this glorious season ramps up, consider doing some or all of the following:

Listen to the beautifully melancholy music of Erik Satie:

Watch leaves swirling in the blustery winds, breath deeply that crisp fall air, and let these melodies seep into your soul.

Watch the movie Arsenic and Old Lace:

You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Cary Grant slowly lose his mind when faced by his little old aunties’ murderous activities. To that, add in a serial killing Boris Karloff look-alike, his drunken henchman, a gent who thinks he is actually Teddy Roosevelt, a bumbling police officer, and a little bit of old-fashioned romance. It’s phenomenal.

Eat Squash! In soups, if possible!

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Go to Trader Joe’s and get down with some SERIOUS pumpkin-y goodness!

I stopped in at my local Trader Joe’s yesterday to pick up my usual frozen grilled peppers, edamame nuggets, and ice coffee concentrate. And, LO AND BEHOLD, what should my wond’ring eyes reveal? THE PUMPKINS HAVE ARRIVED! I left with pumpkin scones, pumpkin cornbread mix, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin mochi, aaaaaand just a classic plain old pumpkin. Tonight, after a long Monday’s work, I rolled out this year’s Pumpkin Ravioli, and it did not disappoint!

pumpkin goodness

Go buy some. Now, if possible.

What are your favorite fall treats? Any must-do items that I should add to my list? 

Caillou: A Study in What is Wrong With Society

 

Caillou-xl-pictures-33

 

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Yup. You heard me correctly. I’m talking about Caillou; that supposedly-innocuous children’s television show from Canada. I almost hesitate to write a blogpost about this, because someone has already done this subject justice. Over at howtobeadad.com there is a post called “Caillou” is French for SHUT UP which perfectly demonstrates my feelings about Caillou. However, I want there to be zero question of my strong support in the anti-Caillou movement, so I will share with you a few thoughts. 

Thought: Look at the screencap/thumbnails used to show various episodes online. . . JUST LOOK at this child’s face in each one. I would probably avoid real live children who exhibited this emotional range, so why on EARTH would I allow a child to watch and emulate The Abomination?

caillou is a brat

 

Thought: High School Students that I teach also have strong & unified Anti-Caillou feelings. After finishing their work, my students will sometimes print out a coloring page so that they can just relax and de-stress for a little bit . . . these are some of the Caillou-themed pages they gave me one year:Feed the Cat, Caillou, not the floor. GEEZ.

He would.

Charming Family. This is what they should look like.

Poor Rosie.

Conquest Caillou: Proponent of imperialism or just power-crazed toddler?

She's green because he makes her physically ill.

Gilbert has a hard lot in life.

I know my students are (in my humble opinion) often above-average, but if my high school students can see the problems intrinsic to this show, WHY CAN’T PARENTS???

Thought: All kids I have ever encountered have the tendency to copy behaviors that they see. Should ANYONE be copying this behavior? 

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Thought: It is telling that people from all different lifestyles and backgrounds are able to get solidly behind the anti-Caillou movement. Case in point: I recently returned from being out for a day to find this note from my substitute teacher . . .

it's not just me

 

These are my thoughts on Caillou.

So, the next time you wind up talking about me and somebody asks:hate caillou

 . . . you will be able to answer just like my above student!

Golden Nuggets From The Internet

There have been a few beautiful moments in my lifetime that my normal forays into the online world have yielded treasures greater than I could have ever imagined. I have thus compiled my very first master-post of things I found on the internet that I didn’t even know I wanted, but are absolute perfection.

British Men Reading Literature

Beautiful Men Reading Beautiful Words with their Beautiful Voices

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Thanks to a benevolent soul on 8tracks, there is a gorgeous playlist of beautifully-accented English readings. . . swoon away.

The Best Musical Mash-up I have ever heard:

I first heard this song through a tumblr post, and I have been obsessed ever since!

The ability to listen to rain ALL THE TIME:

rainy moodI love rain. I love the sound of rain on rooftops and the serene quality of a rainy day. Warm summer rain and the low rumble of thunder? It just doesn’t get better than that. It is, without a doubt, my favorite weather. So, when it’s been a good long time since the last thunder heralded the arrival of a well-rounded storm, I go to this website that lets you listen to rainy music any time!

The Best Foreign Language Resource of All:

Foreign Languages

wordreference.com is a magical resource. This is not an exaggeration. It provides nuanced translations (defined from a multitude of  different dictionaries), synonyms, information on how a word is used in context, variations of words in phrases, examples, linguistic expressions, forums where you can ask questions/clarify word-use, and ALL verb conjugations!!! It has everything.

wordreference

Mindless JELLO TIME:

Sometimes you just want to do something dumb. Mindless. If this is you, I would like to introduce you the red jello mold.

Jello TIME

When you go to jellotime.com, you will see just how mindless and ridiculous this is. Mouse-over the jello and watch it wiggle. . . with sound effects. It either gets old immediately or is mesmerizing.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Son of Citation

Citationmachine.net is a GIFT to students the world over. If you don’t use it already, then allow me to welcome you to the 100% painless ability to correctly site every single one of your sources in ALL of the formats!!! It actually got updated recently, so if you’re having trouble navigating the new formatted website, you can always click here to go to the old version, which does both MLA and APA!

 Do you like old radio shows?

old-radio

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Have you ever even heard one? Think: pod-casts/mp3 books from back in the day of entertainment before there was a TV in every home, before the internet, or the existence of newsfeeds; when people were known to gather around the family radio to listen to dramatized adventure stories. Listening to them now can be both entertaining and riveting. . . not to mention a wonderful background to activities that require your visual attention. I love being able to do work while I listen to a story without feeling like I’m missing whatever is going on by not watching a screen. Anyhow, I recently stumbled upon a website that has dozens upon dozens of free radio shows to listen to! Check it out by clicking on or copying the URL: http://www.oldradioworld.com/

Okay, I need to stop somewhere, so I suppose this is as good a place as any.Looking back, I am noticing that I sound weirdly like an infomercial or like I’m some sort of weird paid promotional person. Please believe (and I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch) that NOBODY paid me for any of this rambling post. Enjoy my internet finds, and if you have any of your own to share, please let me know!!!

That Awkward Phone Moment…

The phone rings and your caller i.d. flashes the name of a dear one you’ve been particularly bad at keeping in touch with over the past year or so. You stare at the screen and in the course of a few seconds, you must decide whether to answer or not.

phone debate.png

One one hand, OF COURSE you want to talk to that person! It’s not like you guys have been out-of-touch on purpose. . . life has just been busy and your two schedules have made you ships in the night. It would be so wonderful to hear their voice again!

On the other hand, it’s been so long since you’ve last spoken voice-to-voice that you’re pretty far behind. Who knows whats been happening in each-others’ lives and how much time (not to mention emotional energy) you may have to dedicate to getting up to speed?

This is also the dilemma of the mind behind this blog. Amid the beautiful chaos of life, there’s been barely a minute or two consecutively to sit with my computer over the past month-and-a-half, and now I find myself with a newsworthy snow day and too much to say.

Life has been full to bursting these past weeks, and true to my scattered form, I shall now undertake the telling of the highlights via list, in no particular order.

1. Yesterday my two nephews were officially adopted!!!

ben and caleb

Words cannot describe how thankful I am to have them formally in my family (where they have been informally for years!).

2. Home Base is Movinghome

After 25 years, my parents have sold the home where I grew up and are moving to Michigan. I can’t lie and say that I am not sad, because I loved growing up on Iradell Road, and it will always hold a place in my heart. BUT, I can say that I am very excited to see where this major shift takes my parents and I know that God will bless the next 25 years as fully has he has the last.

3. I love my church!

4. Teaching remains delightful!

teaching supplies?

I took this picture of my desk, because it was one of those moments where I couldn’t quite believe the randomness of the things appearing on my desk!

5. Planning School Events is, as always, Underway

favor

Winter Ball is almost upon us (if the storm doesn’t require a postponement!) and there will be more to come on the Fairy-Tale Forest theme soon . . .

favors

Suffice it to say, I am staying busy with the details this year!

6. I got another Tattoo

tattwo. . . which prompted one of my students to write this letter to my father, haha!

letters to dad Did I mention that I love my students?

 

7. I’m still obsessed with my cat Winky

winkyface

. . . but can you blame me?

8. I have a new fnephew! (foster-nephew)

fnephew

So you see, a lot has happened . . .

I have a lot to be thankful for!

theboys

What’s new with you in 2015?

 

Loquaciousness, Verbosity, and Siblings

Recently, somewhat out of the blue but much to my delight, my brother decided to throw down a challenge in my direction. . .

words we should use more

 

This was immediately followed up with a full-family-facebook conversation, complete with loving taunts.

family chatter

So, when faced with all of this chatter, I decided to attempt to meet my brother’s challenge.

Did I do it? Yes. Yes I did.

potlucky
My coworkers think I’m crazy, but I did it.

 

The Mascot Gavotte: And the Award Goes To . . .

mascots

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Recently, I was drinking my morning coffee and perusing my tumblr dash – you know: starting the day in a true summer-vacation fashion, and I came across a short blogpost (x) somebody had made about mascots .

blogpost about mascots

As you can see, the writer was basically saying that Mascots are a mockery of furries.

Tangent: What’s a furry, you ask? Well, Urban Dictionary gives a surprisingly-nuanced definition (which you can read by clicking here, if you’d like) that . . . also happens to be pretty long. So, if you’re feeling lazy, lets just define furries as a group of people who anthropomorphize animals to a bajillion different degrees – some of them assuming animal personas to the extent that they identify themselves as an actual animal.

So, now that we’ve got definitions taken care of . . . 

I read some of the comments on the original post, and it ultimately piqued my curiosity about the origin of Mascots. With a whir of my touch-typing fingertips (thank you Mrs. Green, wherever-you-are, it’s the best skill 9th grade gave to me), I started to peruse the massive compendium of knowledge concerning Mascots brought to you by the infallible Saint Wikipedia. (You might not be able to cite it in papers, but it’s a good way to start researching!)

Mascots of Awesome

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Things I learned:

  • the word “mascot” essentially just means “good luck charm”, and owes its English-Language popularization to a French operetta from 1880 that recounted the story of a girl who brought people good luck as long as she remained a virgin
  • a surprising number of mascots are mules – I mean, yes, they’re stubborn and hardworking, but who wants to be an ass?
  • there are a lot of non-animal mascots (not all that surprising until you realize that many are non-human also)
  • while general sports mascots seem to be the largest denomination of mascots, there are also mascots for corporations, bands, and schools
  • Princeton University is the first school in recorded history to have a mascot
  • Victor is a shockingly common name for mascots Victor the Mascot

There is a whole list of mascots (probably incomplete, but still) on Wikipedia for your personal perusing pleasure, and (true to human nature) everybody thinks they have the absolute best. There are polls all over the place about which might be the greatest mascot. Personally, I don’t like #1/ “Best” titles, because they oversimplify. THUS, I have decided to provide you with my very own Mascot Awards Ceremony. I’m sure you’re on pins and needles, so I’ll get right into it.

The Friendliest Nut/Most Indomitable Mascot: Brutus Buckeye of The Ohio State University

Brutus Buckeye

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To take this lighthearted nut at simple face value would be a mistake. Despite his visible cheer, Brutus has had quite a trying history, for an anthropomorphized nut, that is. He’s been kidnapped at least five times since 1965, from what I can gather, and I would daresay he’s come through more hard times than one Buckeye nut ever deserved. Yet, here he is, in 2014, still smiling. Brutus might be a nut, but he is a survivor, and that’s more than many mascots can boast.

The Wildest [Former] Unofficial Mascot to Ever Wield a Pineapple: Vili the Warrior of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Vili the Warrior

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Now retired, apparently, this die-hard, pineapple-toting warrior was quite fearsome, from what I can tell.

The Best Online Profiled Mascot: The Stormy Petrel of Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Georgia)

Petey the Petrel

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Petey the Petrel's Profile

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Suffice it to say: In addition to his large, plague-mask-reminiscent beak, Petey the Petrel has a very well developed identity, folks.

The Scariest Vegetable Mascot: The Cobbers of Concordia College (In Moorhead, Minnesota)

Concordia College Cobbers

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Seriously. Look at that face.

I never knew corn could be that intimidating, and I grew up surrounded by fields of the stuff. All I have to say is: These fans are missing a golden opportunity if they don’t make extensive wordplay involving the word “clobber”.

Also, as a side note, this leads to some interesting fan-base attire.

corn heads?

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I wonder if any of their opponents have come up with some kind of corn-popper analogy yet.

The Smartest/ “Most Esoteric” Mascot: The Eutectic of the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy.

Morty the Eutectic

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What on God’s green earth is a Eutectic, you ask? It’s the scientific process where two solids combine to form a liquid. (Yes, of course I looked it up. What non-chemist would know that kind of thing???) The best part about this nerdy team symbol is how seriously it is stil taken as a mascot, though.

Eutectics Fans

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The Least Intimidating Mascot: The Banana Slugs of the University of California-Santa Cruz

banana slug mascot

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Surprisingly famous, even making number 1 on ESPN’s 2008 top ten mascot names in College Basketball, this mascot doesn’t exactly strike fear into my heart at first glance. One snarky judge from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals of CA, even referenced them in an opinion discourse.

Supreme Court Banana Slug Nod

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The Most Obscene, Yet Also Possibly The Most Unique Mascot: Scrotie the “friendly phallus” of The Rhode Island School of Design

censored box

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This is exactly what you think it is. If you are at all interested in an AMAZING article about Scrotie, please click this link, because the author’s  lovely clear explanation of their mascot is matched in excellence only by the amount of penis-themed, chortle-inducing wordplay they use.   In an article he wrote for the Providence Phoenix, David Scharfenberg calls the RISD sports crew

“a co-ed assemblage that has been turning the dick joke into high art — OK, low art — for 50 years now.”

It’s also worth noting that the ice hockey team of the RISD are called the “Nads” . . . Fans apparently cheer them on with loud cries of “Go Nads!”. No joke. And don’t get me started on the RISD Pricks (a fencing club) and the RISD Seamen (a sailing club).

 The Cutest Mascot: Artie the Fighting Artichoke of Scottsdale Community College

fighting artichokes

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Now, while they have attempted to render this many-layered vegetable-substitute-for-chips more intimidating with design, the plain truth of it is: Artie is adorable.

arti

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Honorable Mentions Due to their Pun-tastic Names:

Webst-UR the University of Richmond’s Spider

webstur

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Whoo RU the Owl Mascot of Rowan University Athletics

owl

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Free Printable: Candyland Madlibs!

candyland mad libs

Every year, as part of the annual school dance preparations, we include the making of Mad-libs. . . after including these as part of the table decor a few years ago, they were met with such positive feedback that we’ve included them ever since! Functioning as a fun ice-breaker and a laughter-filled prelude to dancing, were can you go wrong? (Well, I mean, they are mad libs . . . they tend to go gloriously wrong.) Finding theme-specific mad libs, however, can be something of a challenge. Thus, I have undertaken the writing of original mad libs from time to time, and our recent Candyland Prom was no exception. If you would like to download and use a PDF of my two Candy Land Themed Mad-Libs for use at your own sweet event, feel free to click the pink link and do so with my blessing! Also, if you want to make changes to anything or use the candy-stripe font I used on anything else (for uniformity’s sake), you can find the font available as a free download here.

If you would like to follow our example and transform these mad-libs into part of your decor by making them look like large-scale Candyland game-cards, check out the picture and explanation below for some inspiration!

madlibs - on the tables

We printed the mad-libs on cream-colored stock paper (they are formatted tw0-to-a-page) and then used a paper cutter to make uniform 3.5-inch squares of tissue paper in the requisite colors to adhere to the backs of the mad-libs (using either double-sided tape or glue sticks, depending on availability!).mad libs - game cardsTo keep with the colorful theme, I bought the brightest mechanical pencils I could find at Target (which, incidentally, is also where I purchased the polka-dotted paper cups to hold the pencils). I also bought small fake lollipops from Etsy vendor Twisted Lolly Boutique and hot-glued them to some of the pencils for an added candyland-accent!

DIY Tutorial: Tulle Puff Wands

Every year, a few times a year, I am faced with the question of centerpieces.

puffs in a row

Cut flowers are pretty and generally okay, I guess . . . but they tend to be expensive, not to mention difficult to transport, oftentimes fragile and, in the long run they’re inconvenient. They cannot be prepped very far in advance, but they also don’t last long past the date of the event – rendering them VERY high maintenance for the limited time they’re used. THUS, over the 4+ years of event aesthetics-coordination I’ve undertaken at work, I have continued to seek out new and innovative centerpieces. For example, one year, we had fish as centerpieces. Now, even though there were 15 VERY delighted new-fish families  afterward the event ended, I would probably never do that again just because of the sheer logistical headaches it caused. 15 mini-fish-bowls and gallons of water later, I decided that I should go more towards practical instead of interesting in the future. As a result, over the years, we’ve wound up doing some very fun pieces, including candy-jars, silver leaf branches and several others. This year,  with an impending Candyland themed prom, I thought I would share the latest innovations in centerpiece decor in the form of a tutorial.

Heading - DIY puff tutorial

 Step 1 – start with the raw materials. You will need:

Raw Materials

Step 2 – Measure and Snip

Cut 5-6 foot strips of the tulle/gauze ribbon- each strip will make one “flower” or puff, so plan accordingly. I found that 7 of them filled a typical vase nicely!

Step 1

Step 3 – Fold ‘n Roll

This step is a little self-explanatory. I eye-balled about 5-6 inch folds in the ribbon. If it helps your measurement sensibilities, wrap the tulle around a book which you can then slide it off of. At the end of the fold ‘n roll stage, you should have a loose-yet-neat little coil (pictured below on the right).

step 2 - tulle rolling

Step 4 – Sew

Once you have your little packet of tulle, sew straight across the middle , effectively making the piece bow-shaped. I sewed from the middle out, just to make sure it was a reinforced and tight cinch in the middle.

step 3 - sewing through the middle

Step 5 – Peel Back the Layers

At this point, you just take the bow-like creations that came from Step 4 and shape them, peeling them out layer by layer so that the tulle gains some shape and starts to resemble a blossom.

tulle puffs26

Step 6 – Hot Glue!

There is no picture for this part, because I had my hands a bit full. First I hot-glued two paper straws together for each “stem”. I put the hot glue directly into one end of a straw, and then took the second straw and creased it so that it would fit easily into the other straw, attaching them where I had just put the hot glue. That done, I dabbed hot glue onto the base of each tulle puff and held the straw-stem in place for a moment while it began to set.

Step 7 –  Finishing Touches!

Remove any loose glue-strings and arrange the stemmed tulle puffs as desired in your vase of choice. Then, step back and survey your handiwork. They are like a miniature garden of hothouse Truffula Trees!
tulle puffs!!!

They are so colorful and bright!!!

 

One Winter’s Night: DIY Dinner Dance Decor!

I’ve coordinated a couple of high school dances over the past few years, and I always have a lot of fun with the creative ideas my creative students come up with for decorations and details! Each year, I am fortunate to have have a couple of truly fantastic students who volunteer to be on the planning committee, and 2014 was no exception! After polling the student body for ideas, we met up and settled upon our Winter Ball theme:

One Winter’s Night

Keeping our plans simple and elegant, we set out to provide thoughtful details that might enhance students’ experiences of the evening in question. Some of the things that we organized as part of this year’s festivities included . . .

Setting the Menu & Enjoying the Venue

Winter Ball FOodWe have the delightful opportunity of enjoying the delicious menu of italian cuisine provided by our venue of quality! The spread was delicious and everyone ranted about the chicken parm in particular. The food, however, was just a small organizational detail of the rest of the planning, which was far more hands-on!

Warm & Cozy Favors

What better to give as a favor for a Winter Ball than Hot Cocoa? Inspired by some adorable winter wedding favors on pinterest, we decided that it would be a fun direction to go, and we were not mistaken. We designed our own label, used some of the same cardstock we used for the leaf-creation, and put them together one chilly Wednesday afternoon. They turned out adorable!

Favors - Winter Ball 2013

They looked so pretty on the tables, as did our second focus of decor:

Twinkling Centerpieces!

centerpieces and tabletops

For several weeks before the dance, we brainstormed ideas for the centerpieces. In years past we’ve done everything from live fish to traditional floral arrangements to elaborate candy jars, and we’ve come to the conclusion that non-living centerpieces can render the set-up far less stressful! After doing some scouting and brainstorming, one of my students remembered that I had made some paper-leaf branches at one point. We looked at the paperstock available online, and decided to make our own silvery foliage, just for the occasion.

centerpieces 1

Making these branches  was a cinch, actually. First, we gathered up some sticks from the trail around the school. Then we made two different sizes for leaves and cut them all out by hand before attaching them with hot glue to the branches we had collected. The result looked quite lovely!
centerpieces in action

 After making the branches, we purchased some beautiful twinkly lights (via Amazon.com) to twine through them and the result was like something out of a fairy-tale!

Centerpiece - silver leaves

To these leafy, twinkly, not-quite-floral arrangements, we added a cut-crystal dish of navy-blue, white, and silver m&ms as well as a small glass to hold those lovely, snow-flakey pens pictured above. What might theeeeey be for, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you brought it up, because that brings us to our next element of themed fun . . .

Wintry Mad-Libs
madlibs - winter style

Mad libs are something that we make a point to include every year, at every dance. For one thing, they help break the ice and fill those occasionally stilted social moments before dinner or dancing commence. But, for another thing, who doesn’t like mad-libs? We used a paper punch to make this batch particularly dainty and then placed them at each place setting on the big night. madlibs in action

After that, as students found their way to tables and seats, all that remained was to watch as they took their snow-flakey pens in hand and general hilarity ensued! Let’s face it:

There is no better atmosphere than laughter.